Submitted by San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild
Our island communities are facing unprecedented challenges as we navigate COVID-19 and work to protect ourselves and our neighbors. With farmers markets curtailed and many restaurants shuttered, farmers and food producers need new options — and our community needs new models for grocery shopping in this time of isolation protocols.
The San Juan Islands Food Hub is launching an online marketplace for consumers to order directly from local farmers, producers, and restaurant chefs once a week on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan island. SJIFH is uniquely poised to offer this service. Our software platform has allowed us to pivot from a wholesale food hub to a direct-to-consumer model and to launch this emergency response to begin shopping by April 30.
“We crank out around 100 pounds of goat cheese a week, and normally the majority gets sold to visitors,” said farmer Andre Entermann of Sunnyfield Farm on Lopez Island. “We’ve been freaking out a bit, since we can’t stop the milk coming out of the goats! So, having the Food Hub get fast-tracked has added a reason for staying calm and should make it easier for locals to access food from this county and help us all stay afloat. I am thankful for this.”
SJIFH invites island producers to sell through the Food Hub at no membership cost during the 2020 growing season to assist producers who have lost visitor markets.
It’s easy to shop at sjifh.com each week. Beginning April 30, place your order Thursday-Sunday. Groceries can be picked up the following Tuesday at these designated sites:
• Brickworks on San Juan Island, from 4-6 p.m.
• Taproot Community Kitchen on Lopez Island, from noon to 2 p.m.
• OrcaSong Farm on Orcas Island, from 10:30-11:15 a.m.
The Food Hub offers everything from locally grown nursery starts, produce, and island-raised meats, to island-made products like soaps, tortillas, and cheeses. Producers update products they are offering weekly. As the fruit and vegetable harvest season begins and more producers join the Food Hub, the variety will increase. Check back often to see what is new.
SJIFH is working with San Juan County Department of Health and Community Services to make sure we are practicing the safest preventative measures against COVID-19. Buyers picking up their orders are asked to stay in their cars, and an SJIFH volunteer will deliver to each vehicle. Walk-ups will have designated waiting spaces outside. If you are unable to pick up your groceries, you can send someone else to collect your order.
The SJIFH response to the COVID-19 emergency is a work in progress, made possible by many supporters. Northwest Agriculture Business Center; San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild; San Juan Island Grange #966; Lopez Island Grange; Taproot Community Kitchen; San Juan Islands Community Foundation; Northwest Farm Credit Services; WSU San Juan County Extension; Sasha’s Food Connections; OrcaSong Farm; and private individuals and farms are serving our communities and strengthening our local food system when we most need it.
Once this crisis subsides, we all look forward to the return of bustling farmers markets and further development of the member-owned wholesale San Juan Islands Food Hub. In the meantime, we hope you join us in this community-built disaster relief and food resiliency effort. More information can be found at https://sjifh.com.